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2018

Buffalo Bulls

College Football

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Buffalo was competitive in every game last year, but six losses all by 10 points or less kept them out of a bowl. Now with 18 returning starters, the Bulls are expected to make a bowl and maybe contend in the East division. They had the sixth-best odds (+1200) to win the MAC to go with an over/under of 6.5 wins (at 5Dimes Sportsbook), which is where a lot of teams in the conference are projected.

Buffalo’s offense has the chance to be really good with eight returning starters, it only has to be more consistent. Led by quarterback Tyree Jackson, the Bulls passed for 290 yards per game, but only 28.5 points. To make a bowl, they’ll likely need to surpass that 30-point mark, if not more. Jackson has plenty of tools at his disposal after 12 touchdowns and three interceptions on 8.84 yards per attempt in eight games last year. Those numbers could’ve been bigger, but he missed the seven-overtime loss to WMU (71-68). Rejoining Jackson is stud wide out Anthony Johnson (76 rec., 1,356 yards, 14 TDs), K.J. Osborn (493 yards) and Antonio Nunn (301 yards). It should be another huge season for the passing attack, although the inconsistencies can’t be overlooked. To improve, the running game has to average more than 4.0 yards per carry and that should be possible with three returning starters on the line. Emmanuel Reed (840 yards, 9 TDs) will share the backfield with Johnathan Hawkins, who was the starter last year before getting hurt.

While the offense could be electric, the defense is another story, even with seven returning starters. This group gave up close to 200 rushing yards per game and that has to change if they don’t want to get upset by the worst teams in the MAC. Linebacker Khalil Hodge keeps the unit from completely falling apart with 277 tackles over the last two years. Senior Jordan Collier joins him at linebacker and end Chuck Harris (four sacks) can be a playmaker, but the center of the line is the spot that needs to improve and a freshman could be starting at nose guard. The secondary should be fine with two seniors at corner, but safety has a couple new faces.

Buffalo should again get two non-conference wins at a minimum with trips to Temple and Rutgers being up for grabs. To make a bowl and hit the over, the Bulls will likely need four or five wins in conference play. Three of their home games are against teams projected to finish below them so finding a road win or two will be the key. The best chances will be at CMU and BGSU, although neither will come easy, especially after losing so many close games last year. If everything works out offensively, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Bulls reach seven or eight wins in Lance Leipold’s fourth season in charge. However, it’s hard to ignore the multiple times this offense got stuck last year and that makes them a little harder to bet on.

 

2018 Buffalo Bulls Football Schedule

Sept. 1 vs. Delaware State

Sept. 8 at Temple

Sept. 15 vs. Eastern Michigan

Sept. 22 at Rutgers

Sept. 29 vs. Army

Oct. 6 at Central Michigan

Oct. 13 vs. Akron

Oct. 20 at Toledo

Oct. 30 vs. Miami (OH)

Nov. 6 vs. Kent State

Nov. 14 at Ohio

Nov. 23 at Bowling Green

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